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BEDROOM MAZURKA (1970)
d. Jack Hilbard; pr. Finn Henricksen; scr. Bob Ramsing, Soya; ph. Erik Wittrup Willumsen; ed. Edith Schlussel; prod d. Vibeke Bech; m. Ole Hoyer; cast. Ole Soltoft, Axel Strobye, Annie Brigit Garde (92 mins)
Examining the Age of Sexual Maturity in Farcical Sex Comedy
What age can be considered to be the onset of maturity in adolescents? And, naturally, what behaviour indicates the onset of such a transition between innocence and experience?
These questions begin the lightly pleasing romp of a sex farce that is the 1970 Danish film Bedroom Mazurka. Marking the erotic feature debut of sex comedy specialist John Hilbard, Bedroom Mazurka is set at an all-male religious school. No girls are allowed and a decent, liberal teacher must contend with students who smoke in church, bet and circulate “dirty pictures”. A long way from Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society [Blu-ray] and its all male clique of ambitious private school youth, the students here, under religious tutelage no less, are primarily interest in the liberties of the age of permissiveness then beginning and more than evident in this film’s joy in its evocation of sexual immaturity and morality. It's a precursor in many ways to the rash of American high school sex films of the 1980s - the likes of Porky's and The Last American Virgin amongst them - though is less crude than the American product.
Highly organized students communicate on walkie talkie as the proud dean struts in front of the mirror in this vintage slice of titillation, one of the most influential of the rush of sex comedies across European screens.
With Denmark deregulating hardcore pornography and abandoning censorship, sex and sexuality were highly popular subjects. Director Hilbard, working from a script by noted Danish scribe Soya, presented a liberalized comedy of student / staff relations at a private religious school, naturally with neighbouring girl school. Although it’s along the lines of harmless and naïve boy-girl frolics that this film begins, it proceeds through what is a ritualized initiation into the morality of the age of permissiveness in Europe, presented as then-contemporary sex farce.
Incipient Rationalist Humor over Sexually Explicit Material
There’s an incipiently rationalist humour, as when the dean wonders why of all things its biology being taught in church, and religion lingers in the background as the system of constraint being defied in the film’s more explicitly sexy scenes.
Still, what remains intriguing about this is the parallel between sexual enjoyment and folk dance for a spry sexuality driving the film’s depiction of generational collision: the teachers enjoy the dance as a means of contact between men and women but the students, far more “liberated”, prefer openly sexual matters. Caught in the middle is a young scholar who is advised that he must be married to inherit the title of school dean upon which his students decide to hire a stripper to lure him away from his religious duty in marital monogamy.
It’s the undercutting of Christian morality that initiates the comedy in Bedroom Mazurka.
Revealing the sexuality behind religious moral values was a theme obsessing European sexploitation in the early 1970s, leading to such explicit sexy nun films as Justine, but Bedroom Mazurka eschews solemnity for celebration. Its humour revolves around the increasingly involved encounters between the teacher and women, often at the design of his students, as he is being groomed to take over as dean. Naïve in the ways of sex, he is initiated into it by women here much more sexually savvy and in charge of themselves than the men, who are buffoonish. It is innocuous sexual entertainment for adults: in the guise of comedy it examines the dominant post-sexual revolution freeing of female sexuality from constraint and the erotic celebration of the nude erotic subject in European sexploitation comedy.
Facilitating the Legitimization of "Pornography"
Bedroom Mazurka was a popular hit throughout Europe and it is telling to examine why.
With the legalization of pornography in that country, the film examines the natural human curiosity over sexuality (from looking at the nude body to toys, magazines, groups and other possibilities of human coitus) that gripped the country at that point and personifies it in the form of a teacher set to inherit a strict code of morality but confronted and overwhelmed by a whole new world of opened taboo. Sex is never smarmy in Bedroom Mazurka and the humour never smutty in the sense that American student-faculty teen comedies would become: it is so open and joyous about human sexuality that were it not also playfully erotic about it the film would be G-rated – sex is a positive, warm experience about which it is natural to be inquisitive and in that the younger generation, and women, have a lot to offer in the new age of permissiveness possible in the legalization of pornography.
On that note Bedroom Mazurka encapsulated the joy of sexual liberation that was so-called “pornography” just as it was made available to all after centuries of religious prohibition and generations of stuffy, pompous folk ritual.
The uniquely European textures to this film, that combination of old world allure and new world morality, make for an engaging comedy of manners and morality in tradition. It’s that view of sex as the release from tradition that makes it such a positive experience and remains evident, though perhaps nostalgic in the wake of the subsequent feminist backlash against open sexuality in pornography. Sex and humour often mix well together and Bedroom Mazurka is a film that will appeal to fans of erotica and light comedy.
USA DVD PURCHASE INFORMATION: Bedroom Mazurka ( Mazurka på sengekanten ) ( Bedroom Magic ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Australia ]
UK DVD PURCHASE INFORMATION: Bedroom Mazurka ( Mazurka på sengekanten ) ( Bedroom Magic )
AUSTRALIA DVD PURCHASE: Bedroom Mazurka (Uncut)
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(UPDATED: January 13, 2013 20:54 )
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